Great Acts of Selflessness: Kidney Stone Edition

As a fact, many of my friends have displayed instances of selflessness for which I am eternally grateful. But I regret to inform you, and them, that my poor memory has let slip into the abyss the majority of these acts.

However, there is one that comes to mind I won’t soon forget. Back in some month, 2012, I diligently clicked and clacked away at my keyboard at work, fixing a bug in Words with Friends. Rather abruptly, a pain overcame my lower-back. This was unlike pain I had ever felt; to this day I imagine this is what getting stabbed feels like. I remained in my chair, waiting diligently for this pain to leave, hoping it was a stomach cramp or something of the sort.

  • 5 minutes later: oww.
  • 10 minutes later: seriously, oww.
  • 15 minutes later: okay, wtf.

If it wouldn’t leave on its own, I would force the obstruction out: toilet style. I pushed myself away from the desk and stood up. Immediately did I suffer from this misstep: standing felt impossible. I reasoned with myself: the bathroom, and my certain relief, was only a two minute walk from my desk. I was already up, how bad could walking be?

Excruciating, that’s how. It was like being forced to watch a non-celebrity give an Oscar speech, probably for Best Secondary Microphone Handling. Each step killed me a little inside. I traveled to the bathroom in slow-motion. Co-workers passed by, greeting me as they did, oblivious to the fact that I looked like Goku after turning up gravity to 400x.

Goku: not pictured here

Vegeta pictured here, blame Google image search.

An eternity passed before I arrived. The moment my butt landed on the toilet seat, I prayed. I didn’t believe in any specific gods then, so I hedged my bets and BCC’d all of them. None replied, the pain remained, and raised my situation from a stage-one to a stage-five meltdown: I was dying. I slow-mo’d my way to the employee lounge because it was 25 feet away and featured couches: perfect for chatting, relaxing, and sobbing quietly face-down into a pillow.

It was ten impossibly long minutes before someone stopped to ask me if I was okay. Thank you, wise stranger, for noticing that a young man lying face-down on a company couch with half a throw pillow in his mouth is probably, “not okay.” She called me an ambulance and my entire team watched as the EMTs wheeled me out on a gurnee.

Fast-forward: I’m high on morphine lying on a hospital bed, the nurse is telling me that I’m passing a kidney stone and that in all likelihood, I will pass another in my lifetime: thanks for the pep-talk, Gertrude. This is the part where selflessness comes in. My best friend, let’s call him Steve, shows up in my hospital room. He was working at the time, too, so he bounced to visit me.

He asked me what I needed. Through a haze of morphine, I slurred out incomprehensible instructions. Science can’t explain how he understood me, but he followed through on everything I asked him to do - a real saint. I had no family nearby, no other friends or relatives. So when Steve showed up at the edge of my hospital bed, I felt like my prayers had been answered; at least he checks his email.